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Kenn
08-07-2010, 12:17 AM
I am relatively new to this game, so forgive my naivety.

I assume what interests an agent in a project is a combination of the likelihood of selling it to a publisher and the probable number of copies that might be sold. What is the typical percentage of projects that are accepted by agents that end up being published? What is the typical cut-off in terms of commission/ number of books sold when it becomes worth the agent's time?

Ryan_Sullivan
08-07-2010, 01:40 AM
Depends on the agent and how much they have going on and how they feel about a project. Agent's aren't really thinking about how many copies it'll sell--that's an editors problem. Agents are just looking for great books. Of course they want/hope/think what they sign will sell, but if they fall in love with a project and it doesn't sell, they're likely to keep going.

For me, my agent's worked with me through two books, for just about a year now and he's yet to get any money for it. It just depends on how they feel about the writer/project and how much time they can devote.

Kenn
08-07-2010, 03:58 PM
Ryan, your case might be true in some cases, but agents understandably need to pay their bills. It might well be that your agent sees spending time with you as a long-term investment (rather than it being just a labour of love) - I don't know. My question was deliberately expressed as 'what is typical'. I imagine that most agents set themselves targets for numbers of publications, commission levels, etc. If they don't, then they probably won't stay in business for very long. There must be a point when an author does not need an agent and agent does not need an author. That was what I was trying to get at. Sure, the big publishing houses like agents and agents like big publishing houses, but a lot of authors would probably be quite happy at making a bit of money from their books (rather than having a choice between them being an outright success or not getting published at all). The fraction of books an agent gets published is certainly likely to vary as well. You go on agents' websites and you see their big successes but not their failures. A dozen top titles might be impressive, but much less so if there are a couple of hundred other manuscripts that the agent has failed to get published. I was wondering if there was an agent around who would be brave enough to tell us the truth.

Jamesaritchie
08-07-2010, 10:18 PM
I am relatively new to this game, so forgive my naivety.

I assume what interests an agent in a project is a combination of the likelihood of selling it to a publisher and the probable number of copies that might be sold. What is the typical percentage of projects that are accepted by agents that end up being published? What is the typical cut-off in terms of commission/ number of books sold when it becomes worth the agent's time?

An agent never, ever knows how many copies will sell, or even if the book will sell at all. I know several very good agents who sell just a bit over half of the books they take on, and many of these flop miserably when they hit the market.

All an agent really knows is that there's a decent chance an editor she knows will take on a given book. Even good agents are far from right on this as often as not, which is why even many books that do sell go through five or six or seven editors before one takes it on.

Ryan_Sullivan
08-07-2010, 10:53 PM
Ryan, your case might be true in some cases, but agents understandably need to pay their bills. It might well be that your agent sees spending time with you as a long-term investment (rather than it being just a labour of love) - I don't know. My question was deliberately expressed as 'what is typical'. I imagine that most agents set themselves targets for numbers of publications, commission levels, etc. If they don't, then they probably won't stay in business for very long. There must be a point when an author does not need an agent and agent does not need an author. That was what I was trying to get at. Sure, the big publishing houses like agents and agents like big publishing houses, but a lot of authors would probably be quite happy at making a bit of money from their books (rather than having a choice between them being an outright success or not getting published at all). The fraction of books an agent gets published is certainly likely to vary as well. You go on agents' websites and you see their big successes but not their failures. A dozen top titles might be impressive, but much less so if there are a couple of hundred other manuscripts that the agent has failed to get published. I was wondering if there was an agent around who would be brave enough to tell us the truth.

Yeah...no. Most of the top agents out there go on instinct. They go with they're gut. If they fall in love with something, the thinking is that somebody will eventually and it'll go big. I've never heard a single agent say they've thought about how much a book would make. They hope, but they don't expect.

That said, newer agents probably have a pretty low rate, whereas top agents would likely sell most or all of they're projects. There's no magic number--I doubt the numbers your looking for even exist. There is no "typical" in publishing.

ChaosTitan
08-08-2010, 02:06 AM
What is the typical percentage of projects that are accepted by agents that end up being published?

Anywhere from 1-99%, I'd guess. There is no typical. Some agents sell a new project in four weeks. Some agents never sell a particular project from an author and move on to that author's project number two. Too many factors influence a sale for anything to be typical--the agent, the editors they know, what those editors have bought recently, what the market is like for that book's genre.


What is the typical cut-off in terms of commission/ number of books sold when it becomes worth the agent's time?

You're overthinking this a little. :) Agents don't sit down and think "this book will sell X copies, so it's worth the trouble of signing the author." Ryan was exactly right when he said that's something that publishers consider when they want to buy a manuscript. An agent thinks "I love this author's voice, the story is unique, I know exactly who to submit this to."

If you were hoping for statistics and hard numbers...well, there just aren't any.

Old Hack
08-08-2010, 10:54 AM
From the conversations I've had with agents, the better ones usually sell at least half of the new writers they take on: I do know a couple of agents who have sold all of the new writers they signed (but they sign very few).

This "how many of your new signings do you sell?" is a good question to ask when you're considering taking on a new agent: because what you don't want is an agent who takes on lots of new writers every year but fails to sell many of them. That isn't a good sign, and you don't want to be part of a stable of failures.

Danthia
08-08-2010, 05:07 PM
I assume what interests an agent in a project is a combination of the likelihood of selling it to a publisher and the probable number of copies that might be sold. As others have said, there is no typical. If an agent loves the book, thinks she can sell it, she'll take it on. Same for a publisher. If the submission is something that they know is only for a tiny market and there's no money in it (say for example, picture books) they might not take it on. They do have a business to run, but it's not so cut and dry with a formula or anything. A niche book that someone can sell without an agent because there's a small market for it might not be something an agent takes on, but I'd guess that's a small percentage of submissions.

I don't think anyone in publishing buys/takes on a book thinking "Well, it's not bad, but it won't sell a ton of books." They buy what they think will sell well and then see what happens. Some books get a huge advance and are expected to sell millions and flop. Others are bought for pennies and sell millions. No one knows what the market will do, so they just have to buy what they love and think will sell well.

What is the typical percentage of projects that are accepted by agents that end up being published? Again, there's no typical. Some agents have been very successful in certain genres or markets and sell a lot there, but don't do so well in others. But if the agent has been around a while and is with a good agency, then they're selling a decent amount. Otherwise, they couldn't afford to stay in business. But even if an agent has a 100% success record (and I don't think anyone does), that's no guarantee your book will sell, too. There are just too many variables. I'd say, if you write thrillers, query agents who have been successful with thrillers. If you go with an agent who's never rep'd or sold a thriller, your odds are probably lower, but if they're a good agent they can still sell it to a great publisher.

What is the typical cut-off in terms of commission/ number of books sold when it becomes worth the agent's time? There is none. Agents can only speculate what a book will do, same as publishers. They have no clue what the press run will be until they start shopping it to booksellers and orders start coming in. And that happens well after the book is bought. And even if booksellers think a book will do well and order a lot, if no one buys it, it can still flop. Or sell like gangbusters and need multiple printings.

I know it's comforting to have numbers and figures to gauge yourself against, but publishing isn't that kind of business. Although agents and editors have developed their eye to spot good books, there's really no way to tell what a book will do until it's out in the stores and in the public's hands. Books that are "expected" to do well based on what's sold before often get a leg up in terms of marketing and promotion, but again, that's still no guarantee they'll do well if the readers don't buy it.

All we can do is write the best book we can and send it out there.

Barbara R.
08-08-2010, 05:42 PM
I imagine that most agents set themselves targets for numbers of publications, commission levels, etc. If they don't, then they probably won't stay in business for very long. There must be a point when an author does not need an agent and agent does not need an author. That was what I was trying to get at. Sure, the big publishing houses like agents and agents like big publishing houses, but a lot of authors would probably be quite happy at making a bit of money from their books (rather than having a choice between them being an outright success or not getting published at all). The fraction of books an agent gets published is certainly likely to vary as well. You go on agents' websites and you see their big successes but not their failures. A dozen top titles might be impressive, but much less so if there are a couple of hundred other manuscripts that the agent has failed to get published. I was wondering if there was an agent around who would be brave enough to tell us the truth.

It would be a different truth for each agent. Some agents sell 90% of the work they take on. Others cast a wider net but sell only half or less. It varies widely.

I don't think there's ever a time when a writer doesn't need an agent. If there was no one standing between writers and their publishers, writers would get totally screwed. Those publishers who accept both agented and unagented work have different contracts for writers depending on whether or not they have representation, and the advantage is all to the agented writers.

Part of the problem is how badly writers want their work to be published. Most of the ones I represented, back in the day, would have given their rights away for free if I'd let them.

As for having targets for sales, all agents have the same target: as many as possible.

Stacia Kane
08-08-2010, 10:23 PM
Ryan, your case might be true in some cases, but agents understandably need to pay their bills. It might well be that your agent sees spending time with you as a long-term investment (rather than it being just a labour of love) - I don't know. My question was deliberately expressed as 'what is typical'.

Ryan's case is not at all atypical, actually. Plenty of agents and their clients have stories about how it was the third or fourth book that finally sold. Agents take on clients because they believe in them and their work; writers take agents because they want a real career.


I imagine that most agents set themselves targets for numbers of publications, commission levels, etc. If they don't, then they probably won't stay in business for very long.

And perhaps they do set themselves targets. There's still no guarantee they'll reach them; there are absolutely no guarantees in this business, it's all speculative.



There must be a point when an author does not need an agent and agent does not need an author. That was what I was trying to get at.

There isn't. And as I said above, agents take on clients because they believe they can have a career and love their work and want to help nurture/build that career; writers take on agents because they want to have the kind of career and career advice agents can assist a lot with. Stephen King still has an agent. Nora Roberts still has one. Agents aren't something only beginners find valuable.



Sure, the big publishing houses like agents and agents like big publishing houses, but a lot of authors would probably be quite happy at making a bit of money from their books (rather than having a choice between them being an outright success or not getting published at all).

Sure, there are writers who feel that way. They're not the ones seeking agents.




The fraction of books an agent gets published is certainly likely to vary as well. You go on agents' websites and you see their big successes but not their failures. A dozen top titles might be impressive, but much less so if there are a couple of hundred other manuscripts that the agent has failed to get published. I was wondering if there was an agent around who would be brave enough to tell us the truth.

There is no truth, though. The number can vary from month to month or year to year. There are way too many variables. An agent takes on a project they love and believe will sell. Sometimes they're right. Sometimes an editor loves it but Marketing says no. Sometimes an editor loves it but the house just bought a very similar book, so it's no "fault" of the agent or the writer. You never can tell; like I said there are no guarantees in this business.

I do seriously doubt any agent is taking on hundreds of clients though. They're only one person; most agents whose client numbers I'm aware of have about twenty-five at the most, if memory serves.

I know it's a strange and confusing business, but that's why we're here; to help you understand it. You'll pick it up! I wouldn't be published if not for AW (and Miss Snark, who wrote something on her blog about that percentage question a while ago which basically repeated what the rest of us have said); I learned so much here.

Jamesaritchie
08-08-2010, 10:47 PM
Even when you get percentages, they can be highly misleading. Some agents only handle published writers, some onlt take on one or two unpublished writers per year, some sell 90% of what they take on, and some sell two or three percent. Some are lucky to make one sale per year.

I doubt any singel agent takes on hundreds of clients. That would be incredibly stupid. There simply isn't time to handle that many books/clients, or anywhere close to it. Fifty clients is probably close to the upper limit for most agent. Many handle no more than half this number.

But no agent and no editor can tell you how many copies a book will sell. If this were remotely possible, agents would never take on books that sell nowhere, and publishers would never buy or release books that flop, and would never have surprise bestsellers.

All any agent or editor can really do is find books they love, and think the intended audience will love, as well. Sometimes they're right, more often than not, they're wrong.

Kenn
08-08-2010, 11:00 PM
Thanks for the thought provoking replies. I know that there is no such thing as typical and I didn't mean it to mean the mean, I meant it to mean the median (just to confuse matters!).

Reading some of the other threads, it seems like a lot of posters regard getting an agent as being the biggest success. If it is likely the agent will get the work published, then it is genuinely important. But if the chances are only slight (whatever that means), then it is not really. I was just trying to to see where the land lay. I would not mind making less on a first book if it meant opening the door for future opportunities. I would regard that as an investment rather than being ripped off. The question is whether having an agent would facilitate that publication or whether their focus would be on getting a higher return from a large publishing house at the risk of not getting published.

Reading what others seem to saying, getting an agent sounds like it needs a large slice of luck, since the book needs to take their fancy. That is assuming that you can get them to read something and judging by the number of queries some of them reckon they get, then that too must be largely pot luck. So going the agent route, you need to satisfy the agent first who may or may not satisfy a publisher. While an agent is probably essential these days for the big publishers, I was wondering whether they might otherwise be an unneccesary middle man (or lady).

Thanks again for the detailed answers.

PS Stacia, I don't especially find it a strange and confusing business (not in comparison to some others I could tell you about anyway!) But I appreciate that agents need to make a living before they can help further anyone's career. The basis of my comment was about the extent to which that might dominate their priorities.

waylander
08-08-2010, 11:25 PM
Reading what others seem to saying, getting an agent sounds like it needs a large slice of luck, since the book needs to take their fancy. That is assuming that you can get them to read something and judging by the number of queries some of them reckon they get, then that too must be largely pot luck. So going the agent route, you need to satisfy the agent first who may or may not satisfy a publisher. While an agent is probably essential these days for the big publishers, I was wondering whether they might otherwise be an unneccesary middle man (or lady).


The better your book the luckier you are likely to be in grabbing an agent's fancy

Ryan_Sullivan
08-09-2010, 12:56 AM
Reading what others seem to saying, getting an agent sounds like it needs a large slice of luck, since the book needs to take their fancy. That is assuming that you can get them to read something and judging by the number of queries some of them reckon they get, then that too must be largely pot luck. So going the agent route, you need to satisfy the agent first who may or may not satisfy a publisher. While an agent is probably essential these days for the big publishers, I was wondering whether they might otherwise be an unneccesary middle man (or lady).


Well, one of the advantages of satisfying an agent first is that many of them tend not to follow trends. Editors have to look for what will sell at that moment, where agents can look more big picture a lot of times.

It just depends on what you're looking for. Some people like to use agents simply to sell. Which is fine. But for others, your agent is your advisor/sounding board/advocate, which is why it's important to find an agent who you trust and who feels strongly about your work.

And, agents are great matchmakers. They find the right editor for your work in particular, because they get to know editors and their interests.

Ken
08-09-2010, 01:26 AM
... for the most part there's got to be a sizable chunk of loot on the horizon. How much, is dependent on the size of the agency. An agent from Five Stars may snub their nose at the prospect of a paltry $50,000 advance while an agent from Acme Incorporated may lick their chops at such a sum and get down on their hands and knees and plead.

dawinsor
08-09-2010, 01:52 AM
This doesn't address your question of big vs small agency directly, Ken, but Justine Larbelestier once did an informal survey of her friends to find out what their advance was for their first novel. It was just under $6000 as I recall.

Yup, here's the post:

http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/2004/12/24/average-first-novel-advances/

Sometimes I wonder how agents make a living. :-)

The logic of taking less money the first time and regarding that publication as an investment in your future is appealing. I don't know how well that works out. My agent says it's important to be published well the first time because after that your sales numbers are available on Book Scan and if they're too low, you can be in worse shape than you were before in terms of trying to get a publisher.

OTOH, it depends on what you want. I have friends who are happy at small publishers who may not pay them a lot but treat them well. I have other friends who've chosen to go with e-publishers, again because what that publisher offers makes them happy.

There's a lot to think about.

Ken
08-09-2010, 02:15 AM
... $6000 in 2004. By now several hundred more ;-)

Rather than money, it's more a matter of publishing houses. I should have said that in my post above and would've if I'd thought it out more.

There are many agents who won't handle books unless the books have a chance at being bought by large or fairly large publishing houses. If they think a book would only sell to independent or small houses they'll take a pass from what I've gathered. That's no reflection on the worth or value of such houses. They serve a necessary function and put out some great books and introduce readers to some very fine writers.

The large sums of money just aren't there though which is a consideration of course with agents and many writers as well. There are many factors as you say and each writer has to weigh all the pluses and minuses and decide for themselves which is best.

ChaosTitan
08-09-2010, 03:42 AM
There are many agents who won't handle books unless the books have a chance at being bought by large or fairly large publishing houses. If they think a book would only sell to independent or small houses they'll take a pass from what I've gathered.

That's not quite right. Just because a book has a chance (even a very good chance) of selling to one of the Big Six, that doesn't mean it will sell. And an agent looking to sign an author can't possibly look into the future and know for sure who will buy this new book. Some agents can, of course, read something and think it will only sell to a niche market and interest a very small readership, so they'll pass. It happens, and it's often a business decision. But they can't know for sure that a big house will actually buy it.

It's the same reason why some debut authors don't sell the first book their agents submit--even though the agent thought it was good enough, there are a dozen reasons why no one bought it at that time. One of the reasons for rejection I received from one of the bigger houses was that they'd just bought something similar in concept and didn't want competing titles. Had nothing to do with the writing or me or it's overall marketability.

Are we all sick of hearing "it's subjective" yet? :tongue

Ken
08-09-2010, 05:36 AM
... we're in agreement, Chaos. By 'chance' I implied the same uncertainty.
Guess that didn't come across clearly enough.

One variable in deciding, is whether a book is catered towards a niche. If so, that definitely suggests a limited audience and a smaller press run and publisher quite likely too.

ps Nope. I never tire of hearing about 'subjectivity.'
I embrace it, actually. Makes rejections easier to take ;-)

Barbara R.
08-09-2010, 05:04 PM
... for the most part there's got to be a sizable chunk of loot on the horizon. How much, is dependent on the size of the agency. An agent from Five Stars may snub their nose at the prospect of a paltry $50,000 advance while an agent from Acme Incorporated may lick their chops at such a sum and get down on their hands and knees and plead.

That's just so not the way things work. First of all, these days any agent would kill for a sale with a 50K advance for a non-bestselling client. Second, the agent's job is to build a writers' career, not make a quick buck off a single sale. Third, the reason agents resist selling to marginal and tiny publishers is not because of the size of the advance; even the big houses pay peanuts for first novels that aren't auctionable, and what's 15% of peanuts? They resist because in many cases it's not in the writer's interest to publish with a company that can do no promotion and doesn't have good distribution. When the second books comes along, the first thing perspective publishers will do is check the sales numbers on the first book, and if they're dismal, that could easily cost a sale.

quicklime
08-09-2010, 06:32 PM
... $6000 in 2004. By now several hundred more ;-)

.


I'm not sure I"d make that assumption.


an awful lot of folks, as pointed out, keep agents long after they are "successful". They don't want the busy-work, and 15% is worth being able to stay out of it and write their books, instead of tending their business. A fair number, who prefer to maintain control, never do agent.

But in either case, you seem to be pushing for someone else to finally validate the assumptions you came in with, rather than asking for actual advice...several of the folks who replied here have boks and have been through the sausage-grinder already; they know what they're talking about.

agents buy on a hunch and some educated guesswork, without knowing which publisher may buy it, what will be "hot" by the time the book comes off the press and is released, or how much of a push the publisher will make to promote. There is no way they can try to predict sales with so many variables up in the air, and they don't--they try to find what feels most likely to sell.

Jamesaritchie
08-09-2010, 07:04 PM
... $6000 in 2004. By now several hundred more ;-)

Rather than money, it's more a matter of publishing houses. I should have said that in my post above and would've if I'd thought it out more.

There are many agents who won't handle books unless the books have a chance at being bought by large or fairly large publishing houses. If they think a book would only sell to independent or small houses they'll take a pass from what I've gathered. That's no reflection on the worth or value of such houses. They serve a necessary function and put out some great books and introduce readers to some very fine writers.

The large sums of money just aren't there though which is a consideration of course with agents and many writers as well. There are many factors as you say and each writer has to weigh all the pluses and minuses and decide for themselves which is best.

It's true enough that many agents won't handle a book they believe will sell only to a small publisher, but this doesn't mean the books they do handle will earn much money. Three out of four novels sold to lareg publishers don't earn out their advances, and the advances are often pretty small.

Kenn
08-09-2010, 08:08 PM
Just a point of clarification. Ken is a different person to me (Kenn).

Ken
08-10-2010, 01:51 AM
Just a point of clarification. Ken is a different person to me (Kenn).

... kinda neat having a double though :-)


It's true enough that many agents won't handle a book they believe will sell only to a small publisher, but this doesn't mean the books they do handle will earn much money. Three out of four novels sold to lareg publishers don't earn out their advances, and the advances are often pretty small.

... you definitely know more about this stuff than me, and I am learning something knew here about 3 of 4 not earning out.

I gotta confess that those highly successful agents who've got all those significant deals listed on PW do seem to have the ability to guess very well which manuscripts stand a chance of being cash cows. Sure they get it wrong, but not all that often as it seems when researching them online at least. Just my own impression and I'm not saying it's right.


...even the big houses pay peanuts for first novels that aren't auctionable...

... it's hard to believe that big houses like Penguin etc would pay writers any less than 50 G's with their large distribution and deep pockets. But if that's the way things are that's more new news to me. So much still to learn about the business side of writing. You think you've got a handle on things and then pow, a whole bag of beans to sort.

Thanks to this site I do know a lot more than formerly. So that's something to take comfort in :-)

------

Good to know Ryan. vv

Ryan_Sullivan
08-10-2010, 02:07 AM
... kinda neat having a double though :-)



... you definitely know more about this stuff than me, and I am learning something knew here about 3 of 4 not earning out.

I gotta confess that those highly successful agents who've got all those significant deals listed on PW do seem to have the ability to guess very well which manuscripts stand a chance of being cash cows. Sure they get it wrong, but not all that often as it seems when researching them online at least. Just my own impression and I'm not saying it's right.

Well, advances don't need to be earned out to be a success lately. More books are going to auction, and advances are becoming bigger than they should be as a result. So it's quite common not to earn out. However, advances can be thought of as an expense now. If a book has a great profit, but doesn't earn out the advance, then it's still a success.

Jamesaritchie
08-10-2010, 02:42 AM
This doesn't address your question of big vs small agency directly, Ken, but Justine Larbelestier once did an informal survey of her friends to find out what their advance was for their first novel. It was just under $6000 as I recall.

Yup, here's the post:

http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/2004/12/24/average-first-novel-advances/

Sometimes I wonder how agents make a living. :-)

The logic of taking less money the first time and regarding that publication as an investment in your future is appealing. I don't know how well that works out. My agent says it's important to be published well the first time because after that your sales numbers are available on Book Scan and if they're too low, you can be in worse shape than you were before in terms of trying to get a publisher.

OTOH, it depends on what you want. I have friends who are happy at small publishers who may not pay them a lot but treat them well. I have other friends who've chosen to go with e-publishers, again because what that publisher offers makes them happy.

There's a lot to think about.

Too many agents think the way yours does. It's more about sell through, rather that raw numbers. E-publishers are another matter, but small print pubishers can be just as good for the writer as a large publisher, at least in the long run.

ChaosTitan
08-10-2010, 04:36 AM
... it's hard to believe that big houses like Penguin etc would pay writers any less than 50 G's with their large distribution and deep pockets. But if that's the way things are that's more new news to me.

Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Random House, et al, aren't going to pay an author $50k advance on a book just because they "can." Before advances are offered, publishers draw up a Profit & Loss sheet, try to determine how many copies they think the book will sell and determine advance that way. Usually.

Sometimes a hot book comes along, an editor really, really wants it, so they pony up a $100k advance, but that's more rare than you think. The current average advance for a new author is still $10-15k, even from one of the Big Six.

IceCreamEmpress
08-10-2010, 05:02 AM
... $6000 in 2004. By now several hundred more ;-)

Unlikely; advances haven't gone up (in the US at least) any more than income has.


it's hard to believe that big houses like Penguin etc would pay writers any less than 50 G's with their large distribution and deep pocketsOh, dear. You are way out of the ballpark.

I know a Pulitzer-Prize winning author of non-fiction, who has had at least one #1 New York Times bestseller, who was offered a $30,000 advance for his latest book on a very timely subject. By one of the biggest international publishers.

The reason that big advances make news is because they are so rare.

Ken
08-10-2010, 11:09 PM
Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Random House, et al, aren't going to pay an author $50k advance on a book just because they "can." Before advances are offered, publishers draw up a Profit & Loss sheet, try to determine how many copies they think the book will sell and determine advance that way. Usually.

Sometimes a hot book comes along, an editor really, really wants it, so they pony up a $100k advance, but that's more rare than you think. The current average advance for a new author is still $10-15k, even from one of the Big Six.

... wow. I never would have thought that. I always figured that if a writer managed a deal with one of the big six that would be a sure $50,000 advance at minimum. Writing sure is a tough profession!


Unlikely; advances haven't gone up (in the US at least) any more than income has.

Oh, dear. You are way out of the ballpark.

I know a Pulitzer-Prize winning author of non-fiction, who has had at least one #1 New York Times bestseller, who was offered a $30,000 advance for his latest book on a very timely subject. By one of the biggest international publishers.

The reason that big advances make news is because they are so rare.

... that makes plenty of sense.

Now that I think about it, what I was going by were the classifications: 'good deal', 'nice deal', 'significant deal', etc. Those classifications are bracketed figures: $10,000-$50,000, $50,000-$100,000, .... I should've known that the average would lean toward the lower sums. :-(

No book deal is looming on the horizon for me though. So I suppose these money matters don't concern me much, though I can't help dreaming at times.

Good to have these reality checks as such.

Kenn
08-10-2010, 11:30 PM
... kinda neat having a double though :-)



Like a transatlantic counterpart!

On the subject of advances, it wouldn't really surprise me if big ones are hard to come by these days. I suppose a publisher would only give such an offer if there was both a high chance the book would increase his or her market share and another publisher would snap the offer up if they didn't. I imagine that it is more of a buyer's market these days, because of the number of submissions around, so the publishers would be able to minimise their risk by offering lower advances in most other instances. In my case, I wouldn't care too much if the advance was zero, since it is ultimately the number of books sold that would be the over-riding consideration, and I imagine a lot of other people feel the same. So arguing for a significant advance when there are plenty of potential substitutes around is always going to be difficult. Of course, if a publisher wants a book by a specific author, then that would be something entirely different.

I suppose this raises the question about whether agents are influenced by the size of the advance more than the overall return. It shouldn't be so, but I bet most of them would rather have a bird in the hand, so to speak. If that is the case, I wonder if it is in the author's best long-term interests to have agents arguing for advances or accepting only manuscripts that are likely to fetch a significant one for whatever reason.

BenPanced
08-10-2010, 11:31 PM
Don't focus on the money and how much this guy got or how much she got for hers. You'll never meet those expectations and become incredibly frustrated.

ChaosTitan
08-11-2010, 02:05 AM
Now that I think about it, what I was going by were the classifications: 'good deal', 'nice deal', 'significant deal', etc. Those classifications are bracketed figures: $10,000-$50,000, $50,000-$100,000, .... I should've known that the average would lean toward the lower sums. :-(

When you're looking at the PM deals, it's also useful to remember that those classifications are for the earnings of the entire contract.

For example, I know an author, already published with another house, who was advertised as having signed a new, six-figure deal with DAW. Six figures seems like a really big deal. But when you look at the fine print, the contract for was six books, at $20k each. Six figures for six books.

waylander
08-11-2010, 03:23 AM
Someone I know well has two books out with Ace - a Penguin imprint. The advance for her first book was less than $10k